Chicken (or Shrimp) Fajitas

This feast is a charred meat umami bomb straight out of West Texas, originally made in the 1800’s with beef strip steaks… in fact sometimes cowboys were paid in meat and not money.  Those were tough times, and it was a harsh rugged job.  So if you want to cowboy up, this is the real deal.  Serve with salsa, sour cream, cilantro leaves, guacamole and warm tortillas.  And several ice cold beers.  

Ingredients for Fajitas

6 boneless chicken thighs, (about 2 pounds), cut into strips about 3/4 inch wide and 3 inches long, (or 2 pounds shrimp with tails but without shells)

3 bell peppers (we use 1 red, 1 yellow and 1 orange, cut into 3/4 inch by 3 inch strips)

2 big onions (we use 1 red one and and 1 sweet yellow one)

1/2 cup cilantro, loosely chopped, as a garnish

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt, sprinkled on both sides of the chicken and the veggies 

1 teaspoon black pepper

Ingredients for Marinade 

2/3 for chicken, 1/3 for vegetables… we place all these ingredients in a food processor and make a loose paste.  

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup lime juice (4 to 5 juicy limes)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons tequila

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

5 to 6 big garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped 

1 cup cilantro, finely chopped

2 fresh Serrano pepper, finely chopped

1/2 onion, finely chopped

2 teaspoons cumin, ground

2 teaspoons coriander, ground

1 dried chipotle pepper, ground, about 2 tablespoons powder

1 dried Negro pepper, ground, about 2 tablespoons powder

1 large dried ancho pepper, ground, about 1 tablespoon

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Prep Work

Sprinkle the salt and black pepper on both sides of the thighs.   Cut the chicken into strips about 3 inches long and one inch wide.  Chicken thighs differ in thickness so you may need to cut some especially thick pieces length wise, so all the strips are about 1/2 thick.

Place the chicken strips (or shrimp) into a heavy duty 1 gallon re-sealable plastic storage or freezer bag.  Add the marinade, press the air out of the bag and seal it.  Using your hands outside the bag, message the marinade into the meat until it is completely covering all sides.  Place in the refrigerator, lying flat, for at least 1 hour… we usually marinate all day before a big feast.

Cut the peppers into 1/2 inch wide strips and place in a big bowl.  Cut the onions in half and then cut the half into thick half circles and add to the peppers.  Pour in 1/3 of the marinade and mix thoroughly until all sides are covered.  Lightly salt and set aside.

Cooking

In a 12 to 14 inch cast iron fry pan or a large flat skillet on the BBQ grill, add the olive oil and when hot, but not quite smoking, add the marinaded chicken.  Fry on medium high heat until the first side is charred, about 8 minutes.  Flip the chicken over and sear the other side, but not quite as charred.  They will finish frying with the peppers and onions.

In a separate pan, about the same size and at the same time, saute the vegetables until they are slightly seared.  When the veggies are fully cooked, add them to the chicken pan and fry everything together for the last 2 minutes.  

We like to leave everything in the cast iron pan and bring it straight to the table still sizzling… it’s really fun watching family and friends taking the pieces they want, loading up the warm tortillas, and adding the cilantro, cheese, guacamole and salsa.  Fiesta!